I am a totally inexperienced Salmon fisherman but, I am a fairly adept saltwater fly chucker. I have taken numerous California Yellowtail up to 40#, any number of albacore with the largest running 45# and a 120# marlin on a flyrod. I have also boated and released several pretty large shark but, did not weigh them.
I use a 12-wt rod when I am after the big guys because I don't believe that it is in the interest of the fish that I catch to wear them out using a lighter outfit and then return them to the ocean in an exhausted condition.
I need a heavy duty, large capacity reel with a smooth drag but, I don't need to hock the homestead to buy one. I use an Australian Alvey 425B
Alvey reels are relatively unknown in the United States and the few that have been imported are usually Alvey Side Cast types which is a unique style of reel but, not suited to fly fishing.
I was introduced to the Alvey 425B by an Australian friend who brought one for me from Australia as a gift. I used it and liked it so well that I bought another to use as a backup. The original Alvey has never gone down - so I have not used the backup but have loaned it out to guests on my boat.
At the time I bought the 425B, the U.S. dollar was very strong against the Australian dollar and the Alvey cost just over $110 USD including shipping from Campbell's.
Imagine, a fly reel that will suit the likes of albacore and yelowtail for just a bit over a hundred bucks. It is more expensive now however - since our currency has gone down the toilet but, it is still a pretty good deal as fly tackle goes.
The only down side to the Alvey is that it is a relatively heavy reel. However, it balances well on a 12-wt rod. I love the drag system and have been thrilled when a big fish rips off over a hundred yards orf line.